Insulated or Isolated?


Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.

Improving!!!!

GUESS WHAT?!?!??? I’m improving – in LOTS of ways & my blog is one of those areas 🙂  Just to keep you posted, over the weekend we’re doing some technical upgrades to make it easier for you to interact with me through the blog as well as sharing stuff & other fun upgrades.  The only catch is that you’ll need to resubscribe on Monday – should be super easy & lots more friendly 🙂

I think life should be about continually improving so of course I haven to look at how I can make this blog better along with lots of other areas in my life as well!  So please don’t forget to resubscribe on Monday 🙂

Thanks boatloads for reading this 🙂

The 2×4

I don’t care for the 2×4 technique: you know, the times when it feels like you smacked upside the head with a massive reality check. I prefer the gentle instruction but alas, sometimes I don’t get subtle. When I come to Cambodia & in lots of my work with Saving Moses, I often have the 2×4 experience- seeing babies in deplorable situations & meeting toddlers who have molested. 
I think Jesus would have us listen & watch to be moved in our hearts because indeed, Jesus is deeply concerned & moved. Jesus is moved & when we are obedient I don’t see how cannot be deeply moved, even with the 2×4 experiences. Let’s be careful in our daily living that we don’t insulate ourselves from the things that move Jesus. 

What Do You See?


Presently I’m in Cambodia & this morning I was meandering around one of the neighborhoods where we provide nightcare with Saving Moses. This is always a tough neighborhood for me because of the immensity of the needs I see & feel. But it’s also a warm place for me because of the people I recognize every time, their kindness & warm acceptance. So this morning I was in this neighborhood and kind of taking in everything again. As I looked down one of the alleyways, I saw a small women & waved at her. She smiled quietly back at me. I felt drawn to her, so I walked closer & greeted her in my limited Khmer language. She was warm but respectful so I kept walking closer until I was standing just outside the opening of the space of her home. She was friendly but not overly welcoming. I peaked my head around the corner & observed a woman trying to get herself into sitting position. I could immediately tell that there was a significant physical ailment by the degree of struggle this women undertook to sit up. No joke, it took her between 2-3min to get herself upright. I kept watching to figure out what was going on with her. Her belly was really distended, so initially I thought she was pregnant, but dismissed this immediately because this was something different. She opened her shirt at her belly, revealing a swollen stomach like I’ve never seen, ever. I forced myself to not pull back from shock & tried to process what was wrong. Because I was by myself there was no help for me with any conversation, so I just stood there for what seemed a long time, unsure what to do. As I got my bearings, I felt in my heart that I was to pray for her and that was extremely helpful because I wasn’t just a helpless spectator to her pain & struggle. I stepped into the room and asked if I could pray (by that time, my translator friend came to help me). I began praying for her & also listening in my heart on how / what to pray. Of course I wanted to see some immediate evidence of healing & she did express that the pain she was experiencing was diminishing. I’ll go back tomorrow & check on her.

Seeing things that are atrocious can shock is into freeze mode or we can look to the Holy Spirit to help us be vessels for healing & divine love. Let’s chose love rather than be repelled by sickness & disease!

Balance is So Overrated


Or not! At the end of last ski season, I was ripping a run down the mountain, accidentally flipped, landed on my head & got a concussion. The months since this event have been an “adventure” that I wouldn’t recommend. One of the challenges from this adventure is some balance issues & thankfully, this is getting better.
Seems like we don’t recognize problems with balance until we get out of balance. And if we are honest with ourselves, we tend to go for the extremes rather than cultivate moderation.

Balance is essential in the entirety of our lives. We need balance in how we manage our time, balance with our eating & exercise disciplines, balance in our relationships & solitude, balance between the Word & the Spirit, . . . .

Balance is good & necessary to mature into the people God has made us to be 🙂

Enough?


I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.

Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.

When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.

Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.

Extra & More!

This morning I overslept so I missed my normal Bible prayer time. Sometimes this makes me cranky & my already shady social skills deteriorate.  On these occasions, I try to keep a wide space from people to minimize the offense potential. 
But this morning, I tried a different strategy. Rather than withdraw & be sullen, I decided to attend a moms prayer meeting that I’d never been to before. It was a 50/50 role of the dice & it turned out A-MAZING!! Despite not feeling like it, I went the extra mile & received way MORE than I anticipated. 

Seems like this kind of lines up with what Jesus says about going the extra mile & giving with generosity, no matter how we feel. Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to help us go the extra mile today 🙂

Gravity & Granite

We recently had some work done on our kitchen that included replacing the countertops with granite. While the granite is very beautiful, it’s SUPER heavy. Imagine the shock when it started to become unglued & fall off the support wall! Thankfully, no one was hurt but it brought to light some interesting thoughts. The glue wasn’t strong enough to keep the granite attached, so we not only re-glued the granite but now we’re also installing corbels (a fancy architectural term for bracket). 
For me, I see this granite adventure kind of like the Holy Spirit working in my daily living. Not only do I need the Holy Spirit to keep me glued together, but I need all of the Holy Spirit support that’s possible to keep me in a functional mindset & to prevent me from falling apart. My flesh is like gravity – pulls me to the lowest level possible. The Holy Spirit keeps me upright, living in truth & holds me together 🙂

Anti-Clone

In Romans 12, Paul tells us not to be conformed to the world but rather transformed by renewing our minds. I really like this verse because I’m not very good at conforming, or so I think. I want to think that I march to the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit & that my decisions are grounded in the love of God. But the key to these goals is living from a transformed mind. Indeed, our thoughts are the battlefield for what comes out of our mouths & the decisions we make with our time, money & energy. 
Being conformed to the world around us isn’t nearly as important as being transformed by Holy Spirit’s presence within us!  

Some questions to consider over this holiday weekend:

  • In what ways have you possibly cloned to the world around you?
  • In what ways do your thoughts need to be transformed?
  • How can we better allow God’s love to influence our decisions, conversations & mindset?

Get Better!

I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!  
And sometimes not. 

Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction

  • Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
  • Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
  • Change – correction without change is wasted energy

Hot Topic:  Gravity Prayers

I like to pray because in my mind, praying is simply conversing with God. Prayer is a dialogue between God & me, not just a monologue shopping list. From time to time, however, I sense God challenging me to make known my requests & not just stay in the listening mode. Over time, I’m learning to take very seriously what these requests can be for the simple reason that God answers our prayers. 
Consider these weighty requests:

  • Patience – when we ask God to help us be more patient, often the resulting journey to that destination can be tumultuous
  • Trust – help me trust You more / better; the places in our lives that need this work can get very uncomfortable from the Holy Spirit answering this request
  • Love – I’ve asked God to help me love better & despite some hotspots, the results are worth the risks

It’s not bad to make weighty prayers, but let’s be prepared to make the changes such prayers require. 

Pass on the Poison

Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt. 
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant. 

I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
  • Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
  • Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise. 

No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!

Fat or Phat?

Seems like we prefer skinny to fat, but there’s some good value to considering “phat”, in the sense of Jehoshaphat the King of Judah in 1 Kings. I like this king because he’s flawed but he keeps trying. He also seems to make some really stupid decisions & God still keeps him regardless of his stupidity. 
For example, Jehoshaphat really tried to reconcile with his counterpart, Ahab, a godless king of the northern kingdom. You might recognize Ahab as Jezebel’s husband & she was the epitome of wicked, full stop. Back to Jehoshaphat, there was a battle that Jehoshaphat & Ahab fought together but Ahab disguised himself as a common soldier & Jehoshaphat stayed attired in his kingly garb – seems stupid to me. Nonetheless, Ahab was randomly shot in the battle & died but Jehoshaphat survived. 

After reading about this battle in my Bible time this morning, I was encouraged that God helps me even when I make stupid decisions. It’s ok to be phat, learn & make new mistakes! Happy phat Monday ,)

Friendly Friday

Sometimes when I get to the end of a week, I can get cranky because I’m worn out. For example, I had a chat this morning with a friend who was trying to express some struggles they’re trying to navigate. Unfortunately, I was impatient & insensitive so I took a pause & circled back to apologize & listen better. Sometimes the disappointing events from a week can seem to stockpile on Fridays & I can be cranky from this accumulation. And sometimes there seems to be more work than week, making Friday’s potentially frustrating. 
But I’m choosing to exhale & be friendly. Thankfully, I get to choose my attitude because I’m not merely a porcupine byproduct of various challenges or frustrations. It also helps me to be thankful about specific things:  having an enjoyable lunch with my husband, the beautiful weather, the nice birthday lunch with my friend yesterday & tasty family dinner last night. 

So let’s be friendly on this Friday & thankful because today is truly a gift from God!

Shocking!!

Some of us do shock better than others. Some of us need an hourly stability infusion & others need a more steady supply of edgy & unpredictable. Seems to me that Jesus fits the bill for each of these mindsets & He gives us stability when we need it & unpredictable when that’s what’s necessary. 
Consider that Jesus was the steady Eddy for His disciples & earned their trust being His continuous faithfulness to them. He was also a shocker from time to time:

  • The walking on the water thing completely freaked out His disciples – Jesus walking on the water was the last thing they expected to see at 3am in the middle of a storm!
  • The multiple resurrection appearances was seriously shocking – a wake up call for sure!
  • Jesus’ disappearance after the Emmaus road chat made those guys recognize the holy heartburn from their traveling conversation w Him

Let’s be clear that whether we’re in a discouraging storm, or we’ve endured a tragic loss or we can’t understand what God is going, Jesus is fully capable to continue doing supernatural & shocking things. Let’s keep our eyes peeled & hearts open to Jesus throughout this day!

Raise the Tide

Last night my daughter was clocking in some driving time so she can have enough hours to get her drivers license. I was flabbergasted by the quantity of rude drivers even at 8:30pm, unbelievable. I jokingly said to her, “Let that guy who honked at you for driving the speed limit, let him pull up beside us & I’ll do something rude back to him.” Of course I understand that I need to model for my daughter good behavior, so I wasn’t very serious about my comment. 
Nonetheless, I started thinking about my frustrations with other drivers & here’s where it gets dicey: if I mirror back another person’s rude behavior, then I’m making decisions at the lowest common denominator. Living at the lowest common denominator isn’t the life that Jesus describes to His followers in the Beatitudes – specifically as it relates to being merciful & receiving mercy. 

Let’s raise the tide more than we lower our behaviors 🙂

Raise the Tide

Last night my daughter was clocking in some driving time so she can have enough hours to get her drivers license. I was flabbergasted by the quantity of rude drivers even at 8:30pm, unbelievable. I jokingly said to her, “Let that guy who honked at you for driving the speed limit, let him pull up beside us & I’ll do something rude back to him.” Of course I understand that I need to model for my daughter good behavior, so I wasn’t very serious about my comment. 
Nonetheless, I started thinking about my frustrations with other drivers & here’s where it gets dicey: if I mirror back another person’s rude behavior, then I’m making decisions at the lowest common denominator. Living at the lowest common denominator isn’t the life that Jesus describes to His followers in the Beatitudes – specifically as it relates to being merciful & receiving mercy. 

Let’s raise the tide more than we lower our behaviors 🙂

Being Offended

There’s enough content to talk about offenses for endless years and I’m sure I couldeasily describe various situations & people who have offended us. Seems to me that being offended isn’t as much an issue as getting over an offense. Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Quit thinking about ways to get even or pay them back – the revenge thing lays squarely in God’s portfolio
  • Stop talking about it – prayer groups, venting & rehearsing merely fester the wound rather closing it to infection & poison
  • Pray for the person who offended you – private prayers that God would help you to forgive & that God would bless the offending person seem to be healing balm
  • Decide to be a proficient forgiver more than a bitter hater

Like Elsa says in Frozen, “Let it go!”  

Managing Stress

It’s not 9am yet & I think I’ve already endured a week’s worth of stress. Ok, that’s an overreaction, but my daughter just drove me home & she’s just beginning to learn how to drive.  We also just dropped off my son for his first day of high school, so I’m sitting at home endeavoring to calm my frayed nerves. Normally, I’m a relatively relaxed person but I can get pretty jittery when it comes to stuff with my kids. 

Seems to me that we have have areas in our lives that make us jittery & it’s not possible to always avoid these stressors. Sometimes we have to go through stress & get better at managing it rather than stress managing us. 

So here are some pointers that could be helpful to you or someone you know who’s in a stressful season:

  • it can help to take a pause, close your eyes & catch your breath
  • consider if you’re stressed about an event or if there’s a deeper issue that is happening in your emotions / thoughts 
  • stress is usually limited in time or to a situation – it can pass or get smaller when we think about the big picture
  • pray & ask the Holy Spirit to help you have peace that is bigger / stronger than any stress

Sometimes stress can help us lean into God more & rely on ourselves less. In this context, God can get some excellent mileage out of stress & we can have a more intimate relationship with God. That seems to be one of the things that God does so very well in our lives – turning to broken into beautiful & stress into cozy communion with the Holy Spirit!

Hot Topic: Be An Olympian!

I seriously love watching amatuer athletes obliterate records and defy conventional thinking.  In this year’s Olympics, I’ve dropped my teeth on more than one occassion:

  • watching Ledeky become la pescada with her 800m swim that left me speechless
  • seeing Simone Biles defy gravity, celebrating her epic tenacity & talent
  • observing the winning exchange between Nikki Hamblin & Abbey D’Agostino in the 500m qualifying race

The Olympics this year have been very incredible in many different ways.  As I’ve thought about some of stand-out moments & athletes, I asked myself the questions, “In what way would I want to be an Olympian & not just in an athletic context?  How could I be an olympian person in a spiritual context?”  As I thought about these questions, I remembered the story of Perpetua, a third century martyr, who died as she said, “stand fast in the faith and love one another.”  I applaud the athletic achievements that have marked the Olympics this year, but may our love for Jesus and others be every bit as olympian, with the help of the Holy Spirit!